Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Surgery: Negligence

The Clinical Negligence team at Gregory Abrams Davidson represent many clients who have suffered harm having undergone laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

Keyhole surgery is increasingly common. The main advantage of this form of surgery is that recovery is relatively quick involving shorter hospital stays. However, as with all surgery, there are certain recognised risks associated with keyhole surgery, namely bowel/bladder perforation or bile duct injuries. Careful monitoring of vital signs following keyhole surgery is vital. If left undiagnosed, these risks can develop into life threatening complications.

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) recently published a Rapid Response Report entitled: “Laparoscopic Surgery: Failure to Recognise Post-Operative Deterioration.” The NPSA reviewed the NHSA Litigation Authority (NHSLA) data which identified 496 adverse events relating to laparoscopic surgery between April 1995 and April 2010. A review of this data revealed that bowel and bile duct perforations were the most common cases, namely 205 and 153 respectively, followed by vascular (64) and bladder perforations (23).

Furthermore, the report revealed that between November 2003 and April 2010, 48 serious incidents relating to keyhole surgery were reported to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) and the Strategic Executive Information System (STEIS). This included 11 deaths relating to deterioration of patients post-operatively.

The NPSA revealed that organisational policies and procedures to identify and act upon the deterioration of patients after keyhole surgery were not consistent or, in many cases, available. For reasons already outlined, it is imperative that any complications are dealt with rapidly. What symptoms are indicative of a post-operative complication? The NPSA’s report highlighted the following:

Abdominal pain needing opiate analgesia

Reluctance to eat or drink

Reluctance to mobilise



Abdominal tenderness

Abdominal distension (swelling)

Poor urine output

Tachycardia (rapid or accelerated heartbeat

Cardiac Arrhythmia (fast/slow or regular/irregular heartbeat)

If you or somebody you know has been affected by complications following keyhole surgery, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our dedicated team on 0151 733 3353 or 02082090166. Alternatively, you can email us at